Road construction professionals are no strangers to danger and potential hazards and between the unpredictable traffic conditions surrounding them and the risk of mother nature working against them, this is arguably one of the highest-risk jobs. Still, with many of the most used roadways crumbling fast and needing maintenance or even construction, it’s up to these brave workers to take up the task, despite the risks of injury. Mentioned below are some of the potential hazards for workers in road construction and how can they protect themselves from them on the job to carry out the work timely and safely.
1. USING HEAVY MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT
The average road construction project requires many different machines to complete each task effectively and efficiently such as the steamroller, dump truck, and concrete mixer. Due to their size, weight, power, etc. just being near such heavy equipment is enough to pose a threat to a person, and therefore lights and signs are necessary to indicate to pedestrian workers when a piece of equipment is in use.
In addition, machine operators should also refrain from moving too fast, exceeding the specified machine limits, and failing to surround the work area with protective barricades. Such road construction safety precautions further reduce the risk of these sections and keep individuals in close proximity safe by ensuring that everything is running as it should.
Construction is noisy and noise is a common construction hazard. Loud, repetitive, and excessive noise can cause long-term hearing problems. Noise can also be a dangerous distraction and may distract the worker from the task at hand, which can cause accidents. Therefore, it is the employer’s responsibility to carry out a comprehensive noise risk assessment and take appropriate measures.
3. PROXIMITY TO LIVE ELECTRICAL CURRENTS
Road workers are at a particularly high risk of electrocution on the job as there are a lot of utility lines and live circuits that run beneath the pavement which power roadside lighting systems and even some nearby homes with energy. Therefore, to protect them while they handle electric lines, it’s important that the workers receive thorough and comprehensive training in electrical safety and refrain from wearing conductive clothing to limit potential hazards.
4. UNRULY TRAFFIC AND DRIVERS
The erratic nature of traffic, and the drivers involved in it, are one of the biggest risks that road workers work with. Unfortunately, careless drivers are the most common cause of roadwork-related injury and death. Despite the efforts to keep these individuals under control as they drive through the work zone, there’s no way to tell what frame of mind they’re in or what they plan to do. Owing to this, additional work is often necessary to limit how used industrial equipment moves and provide a protective layer between cars and workers. This can mean narrowing the available driving space to as little as one lane when necessary and setting up barricades to take the bulk of an impact.
5. SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS
Lack of signage, lighting, or barriers can put workers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users at risk of slip, trip, and fall injuries. When someone falls as a result of a slip or trip, the injury can range from minor to more serious. The severity of the injury will depend on the circumstances for example a person could fall into an uncovered manhole or excavation, uneven or damaged pavement or road, trailing cables etc.
To deal with this you can keep work and storage areas tidy, use barriers to keep people away from holes or other hazards, ensure workers wear appropriate footwear with good grip, plan deliveries to minimize the number of materials on site, etc.
6. LOW VISIBILITY CONDITIONS
Low visibility environmental conditions are a potential hazard for workers in road construction, as staying safe relies on the ability to see and be seen by others. Unfortunately, as many jobs require road construction professionals to work at night or in fog, it greatly increases the chances of someone getting overlooked and hurt. Therefore, during these times increased protection and warning are necessary when controlling traffic for example there should be traffic barricade flashing lights to warn drivers of people’s presence
7. OVEREXERTION, FATIGUE, AND EXHAUSTION
One of the most important hazards to be on the lookout for on a job site is worker exhaustion and fatigue. As there are so many dangers in working on road construction, workers should be at their mental and physical best to avoid such dangers.